According to the World Cancer Research Fund (via New Scientist Magazine), lifestyle changes could cut cancer by 1/3 in developed countries and 1/4 in developing countries.
"People think that somehow cancer comes from heaven, or Darwin, or from their parent's genes, but that's not always the case," says Michael Marmot, chair of the WCRF panel that produced the report. "A third are caused by smoking, and approximately a third are related to diet and physical activity."
Cutting the risk of cancer by a third. Sign me up. So what are the WCRFs recommendations? Nothing you haven't heard before, but they're always worth repeating.
- Be as lean as possible without being underweight. WCRF suggests shooting for the lower end of the normal range for your BMI.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day. The recommendation is actually 30 minutes of vigorous activity or 60 minutes of moderate activity. (Note to self - that doesn't include time spent blogging!)
- Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (high in fats and/or sugars, and/or low in fiber) and avoid sugary drinks. In the olden days that would have been guaranteed if you were a vegan, but today there's a proliferation of vegan junk food and vegan processed foods out there, so make smart choices!
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and pulses (legumes) such as beans. "Basing our diets on plant foods (like vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, and pulses such as beans), which contain fibre and other nutrients, can reduce our risk of cancer."
- Limit consumption of red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats. Obviously, this is not an issue for those of us eating vegan, but it's important info for our omnivorous family and friends. The WCRF recommendation is to limit consumption of meats to 500g per week.
- Limit alcoholic beverages to 2/day for men and 1/day for women.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium). Our daily intake of salt should be less than 6g (2.4g sodium). To determine how much salt a food contains, multiply the sodium content by 2.5.
- Don't use supplements to protect against cancer. WCRF recommends getting nutrients thru whole foods as opposed to eating a lower quality diet and supplementing.
So while the WCRF doesn't come out and recommend a vegan diet, they do stress basing a diet on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes (pulses). Easy enough to do when you are eating vegan.